Nov 10, 2008

Homily for Saturday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Given to the Men’s Retreat for the University Dallas, Rome Campus – Nov 8, 2008.


“I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance… I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”

For many of us, I am guessing we think we know how to live with abundance. We know how to eat well, we know how to travel well, to stay in good places, to use technology in abundance, but is that living with abundance?


 People often think that this passage is referring only to material wealth, but it also has a deeper meaning.


Last night I talked about how Christ “came that we may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Interestingly, being able to manage wealth doesn’t come naturally to most people and being able to live life with abundance is not easy as you would expect. Once a person has received a great gift or fortune, one needs to be careful as to what you do with it.

I know in my country that a high proportion of lottery winners who win more than 1 million dollars are often in a worse position financially after only 5 or 6 years. So I checked on the internet and I found an article that claimed up to 80% of lottery winners in the US spend all the money and many even file for bankruptcy. 


You might be thinking to yourself, what does this have to do with the readings and message of the Gospel?

Well, faith and relationship with Jesus Christ is like winning the lottery. Through what Jesus has done for us, we have received the greatest fortune possible. Through baptism we have been promised a place in eternal life and we have been given, right here and now, the graces to live life to the full – to live life with freedom, love, hope and faith.

But my friends, it can all be lost.

1 million dollars, 5 millions dollars, a hundred million dollars – in itself money is not evil. The fortunes of lottery winners are lost because they don’t know how to live life truly with abundance, they don’t know how to use their gifts for the building up of God’s kingdom. For many people, money defines them and becomes who they are, and if power, status, prestige and the lifestyle of the rich and famous are what defines a person, then the gifts and money you have will quickly disappear. It costs a lot to maintain such a lifestyle. Ferrari’s don’t come cheap these days, people tell me!


In today’s Gospel it says: “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”


As I said last night, what is each of us making our focus in life? Is power what we seek? Do we want to be rich and famous? Do we want to run a big company? Do we want to change the world and receive a Noble peace prize?


Each of us has received many wonderful gifts from God so that we can live life with abundance. In essence we have received the gifts of millionaires. But we have been given free will to choose what we will do with our gifts.


We can make our gifts define us and become eventually a stumbling block for ourselves and our relationship with our loving God, or we can make our gifts a means to serve our God.


My friends Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote “Our vocation is to belong to Jesus. The easiest way and the simplest way of belonging is this: the Holy Spirit makes us do that ‘giving of self’, that ‘total surrender to God’, without any reflection, without even counting the cost. We call that “blind surrender.” It is like our Lady: when she knew that the Lord was calling, she said yes. And she never withdrew that yes. It was a blind, continual yes in her life. It is the same thing for us. The whole of our life must come to that one word YES. Yes to God: that is holiness. We allow God to take from us whatever he wants and we accept whatever he gives with joy. That is yes in action.”


You may be thinking to yourself, I have made my Yes by being a Christian, so what more is needed. You may be thinking: it all sounds good to say Yes, but that doesn’t need to happen for a number of years.


God is preparing us and is wanting us live life abundantly here and now. As today’s Gospel tells us: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.”

Every day we have the opportunity to respond as Jesus intends us to respond.


How do we live abundantly with our gifts?

We need to pray, to trust and to develop a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.


We have been given great gifts and we are more wealthy than millionaires.

But how are we going to use our gifts? Will we throw them away, or will we become so focussed on our particular gifts that they absorb us.

God has given us the strength through our gifts to build the Kingdom of God.


I will finish with some words from Mother Teresa:

“This will need much sacrifice, but if we really mean to pray and want to pray we must be ready to do it now. This is only the first step toward prayer but if we never make the first step with determination, we will not reach the last one: the presence of God.”


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